Sunday, October 17, 2010

In The Now

Here I am again, blogging outside as I watch Sweetie have some bike time. Here to make sure I'm close by if something goes wrong, but also able to take some time to get my thing done. I am a pretty good multi- tasker. My years working at the newspaper taught me that. But I gotta say, this past week has really made me realize the gift of being "in the now."

This week was my first week of working multiple jobs. eBay product listing most mornings, office administering in the early afternoons, then finishing up with call center work into the early nighttime hours. Throw in a few hours of tutor training & you now have a pretty good vision of what last week looked like for me.

This week will be much the same, until next week when I give up the call center hours on Mondays in favor of actually taking on a student to regularly tutor at that time. Yay!

Each of my jobs have very specific duties & responsibilities. Each one requires my utmost concentration - especially during this learning phase I'm in with most of them. I can't be thinking about how to help my exam prep student succeed while I'm making calls to people & reading from a prescribed script anymore than I can think about how to better promote my boss's seminary school while I'm in the middle of writing a snazzy description about this here blue sweater or shimmery button down dress shirt. All very separate, all very important jobs in their own ways.

And then there's home time. 8:20 comes around and I'm arriving home just in time to visit with Sweetie for a few minutes and look through her backpack with her before tucking her in to bed & reading another chapter of her bedtime book to her, if it's my night to do so. And you know it's my absolute pleasure to do so - leaving behind all the stresses, problems and worries from my day so that I can give my full attention to her & completely enjoy my fair share of Sweetie-provided hugs, kisses, noses & poses.

Finishing up the day with Hubby as we watch some T.V. & talk a bit about our day. So nice to be home with enough of the evening left to relax with him before heading off to read in bed.

Then it all starts over again in the morning, with the added a.m. responsibility of maybe working on some spelling homework with Sweetie if she didn't have a chance to get to it herself the night before.

Yes, it sure is handy to be able to get several things done at one time. But sometimes it's definitely nice to stop & appreciate the concentration needed to give your all to just one thing, blocking out the rest of the world for a bit of time.

Especially, I gotta say, the coming home to those you love part. Letting them know that now you're here & the only thing you care to do at this time is to be with them & hear about how they are.

And to know for yourself that, no matter what happened during your day, even if it wasn't the best of days because you may have made mistakes or upset some people, you still have this wonderful family who loves you always, whole-heartedly, every single day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blogging From the Outside In

So right now, as I write this, I am outside on this beautiful New England fall day watching my proud Sweetie enjoy herself to the hilt as she rides her new, bigger bike WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS! Wow! That's right! I can hardly believe it!

Yesterday we were given this bike by a family at church whose older daughter has outgrown it. No training wheels attached. We tried to attach the wheels from Sweetie's old bike, but quickly saw that she relied too much on these too small "helper" wheels, making the riding experience actually dangerous. She'd have to just go out there & learn. Just do it!

So after angrily debating with Hubby about how these lesson should continue after the one miserable loop he did with her while hanging on to Sweetie as she rode, we noticed something... Sweetie was on her bike & had just successfully pedaled herself a short distance. Wow! Do that again! Now see if you can go farther. You did it! You're riding!

Well, that was easy.

Just a few tips from Daddy on how to safely jump away from the bike when it falls, and she's good to go. Still - can't yet be outside on her own with it just yet. But otherwise, she's proven herself a good, safe rider who's made an awfully quick study of all this! Yay, Sweetie!

And as for the story of how we came to acquire this bike... That's another "wow" of a different sort.

Trying to make this as short a story as possible... after our very enjoyable potluck dinner last weekend, Hubby & I gained a lot of knowledge from our friends about where to find some help with the things we need (inexpensive or free food & clothes) as well as the confidence & "approval" that it really is okay to ask for help when you need it.

So, with that, I hung up a sign the next day at church, displaying our need for Sweetie to have a bigger bike.

Not 2 hours out of church & we got the call. Someone's daughter had well outgrown her bike & we were welcome to it. Yay!

I'm so thankful to this family as well as to so many other families & individuals who have helped us this week.

To an old friend/co-worker who told me about a PT job opening where she works her 2nd job. I start there tomorrow.

To the owner of a local tutoring company who called me in after receiving my resume. Or should I simply be thankful to the universe on this one? I think I was the right candidate at the right time interviewing with the right employer. I go in for training sometime later this week.

To another fellow church friend Hubby & I had the honor of getting to know better at last week's potluck. She could use some help with getting more items up faster on her EBay store. If I help her with that, we could both profit from the increase in items sold at her site. I've been helping her for almost a week now.

To the host of the potluck who gave us lots of helpful info, including a reminder of another friend who always has fresh fruits, veggies & breads available at her house - clear outs from a local large farm stand. Perfectly good food they're taking off their shelves to make room for new product. Now available at this other location, free to anyone who's interested and in need. We've been there 3 times this last week. Surprisingly good stuff!

To my parents, who didn't complain when they found out they unknowingly let us "shop" their house for needed groceries while they were away last weekend. And, of course, for all the other ways, big and small, that they've help us so often.

To my aunt who sent Hubby & I a thank you gift for checking in on her cat while she too was away last weekend. A too generous monetary gift. Just nearly the perfect amount to allow Hubby & I to go out for that anniversary sushi dinner. So we did - & had more than enough to pay for it when we included the money Hubby's grandparents sent us to help us celebrate our day.

And to Sweetie. In case you didn't know, Sweetie makes me one proud mama. For her smarts & creativity & general "great" attitude about life itself. But for this post's Sweetie pride, I'm focusing on Sweetie's simple happiness & her unassuming generosity. Sweetie doesn't care that her new bike isn't truly new. She doesn't care that much of her clothes are hand me downs or from the consignment store. She doesn't complain about having soup night after night for dinner (making homemade soup is cheap.) She thinks nothing of us going "grocery shopping" at our friend's driveway instead of the real store. And she rarely, if ever, fills the air with whines and wants whenever we pass by a store's toy aisle or she views certain kid-centered commercials. All she knows and cares about is that she's well loved, she eats enough & she has some fun toys & books to entertain herself with.

Not only all that, but she's just as happy & understanding when we pass along her old clothes, toys & books to others who can use them better than she can. In fact, this giving & receiving among friends & family - and strangers in need - is really a very natural part of her life by now. (I gotta say, it made me feel sooooo good yesterday to find out about some specific items my SIL could use for her daughter and to know that, yeah, we have that... and now you're welcome to it!)

What better gift can you give to your child than the gift of empathy, gratitude & knowing the joys in simple pleasures?

What better quality can you see shining through your child's eyes than simple happiness, generosity & understanding.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Better Together

"Here's a recipe for Apple Brownies. We don't have apples, but we have the peaches from our tree that you canned. We can make this.

Oh, but we only have half as much butter that's needed, and the same with eggs. We literally only have enough money this week to pay the bills due - and in some of those cases, only a portion of the total amount. So I was really hoping we could make something for the potluck tonight that didn't require us to spend money at all.

Well, we can substitute half a banana for the egg we need. And use oil for what butter we don't have. Sure! This is totally doable. Let's make it!"

So, using most of the sugar my mom gave us yesterday, as well as all the other substituted and not substituted ingredients already in the house, we worked together to make a very yummy smelling Peach/Blueberry Blondie (can't really call it a brownie, now, can I? Seeing as there's no cocoa in this or the original (old family) recipe.) Haven't yet tasted it, but I dare say our little experiment has worked itself out quite nicely.

We'll be able to tell just how yummy it is when we serve it this evening at the newly formed Common Security Network potluck dinner - a small group of church folk who, like us, are looking for support and assistance, in any way possible, with our common financial struggles. Not yet sure exactly how this group is going to function in its support, but that's what this first meeting is all about. Coming together to exchange ideas and figure out the best way for this Network to proceed.


Ever since this summer, when Grampy jokingly suggested it, Sweetie has wanted to be an ear of corn for Halloween. Her idea before that was to be a robot. But the corn idea was a good one, and very unique. But I warned Hubby (the creative one) that he better get on the making of this costume sooner rather than later - or it'd never happen.

Well, it hasn't happened yet. And now more than half of what I brought home for income has been taken away. Parts we should have already bought to create this costume have not yet been purchased. And the whole thing really needs to be done by mid-October, not the end, because of various holiday festivities we'll be attending where dressing up needs to take place.

And so I gently suggested to Sweetie that I didn't think we'd be able to make a corn costume this year. Would she mind us helping her think of something else she could be instead?

Her surprising response? No problem! She didn't mind if she dressed up like a robot, or a vampire, or a witch, or computer, or - basically - whatever. 


In the end, we've now all very happily settled on a new idea. A very punny idea. She's going to be an Elevader. What's that you ask? Well, it involves a Darth Vader mask and gloves (yes, parts that we will have to purchase, but hopefully not for too much money), a fabricated bellhop uniform, and a created elevator button display board around her neck. Totally awesome, huh? I'm thinking it's all going to turn out fantastically!


A friend invited me out to coffee or lunch later this week. A friend who's been through some pretty life-altering stresses of her own recently. We both could really use a couple hours together to visit with each other, vent to each other, and try to forget about all the troubles. I wrote to her that, given my recent job loss, I didn't think I could afford a lunch out, but could swing a cup of coffee. So, it's on. It's a date. And I'm very much looking forward to it. At the same time, though, I'm looking at our finances and seeing that even a coffee is too much of a luxury this week. As I said above, anything beyond our regular bills this week pretty much cannot happen. I'm bound and determined to make it happen. It will happen. But I know I'll also feel guilty for spending any "extra" money we have on something like this.

But, really, it's the getting together with a friend I'm looking forward to most. And I do feel I need that. I'm certain she and I both will feel better seeing each other and talking out our woes for just a little while. 


Next Saturday is Hubby and my 11th wedding anniversary. A date that had me insisting that we go out to celebrate at a local, very yummy sushi restaurant. It's been too, too long since we've been out at all, let alone alone together out for sushi! And this is "Happy Eleven!" It has to be done. The plan was made.

And then... I lost my job. So a sushi date that was completely within the budget just 2 weeks ago is now completely out of the question. Any kind of dinner out, actually, is now not able to happen. Now we basically have no means to fund any sort of celebratory happening - with or without Sweetie - to mark our special day. No movie. No dinner. No special trip anywhere fun. A nearby town is hosting a Pumpkin Festival that day. Something we can certainly go to and mosey around at without cost. But, really, that's something we'd probably do anyway this season. It just happens to be on our anniversary this year. What I was looking for was something out of the ordinary to do with my Hubby, and I just can't now imagine what that possibly could be when you also have to consider the "free of charge" portion of the equation. Hmph. At 11 years into our marriage, it's pretty depressing to think we're really no better off financially - and very likely actually worse off - than we were when we first began together. 


Hubby was ranting a bit earlier this week. Railing about all he does and how tired he is. He works full days, far away, doing very active work. He goes running every other day - fitting it in by either getting up extra early or stopping during his long drives home in the afternoon to run several laps around a neighboring town's high school track. He cooks us our meals, even after these long, hard days. And, in his free time, he goes out to his wood shop to create items he can hopefully sell - now even more so, since I'm down so much pay. 

Yes, it's all so very true. He does work hard. Then he does come home and cook dinner. He fits so much into a day, and most - if not all of it - is for the benefit of Sweetie and me. He works hard for our little family. He's a great, great husband and daddy. And I find it - ironic? is that the word I want? - that ever since he and I started working together weekly on our budget, that it's pretty much been a terrible time for us in that regard. He was down some pay. Now he's struggling to get back, but my pay was cut. It's just not cool.

But his ranting, this week, upset me about what I bring (or don't bring) to the "family table." I bring home pay too! And it's not my fault I got fired because my boss got scared and wouldn't take the time to train me correctly and help me to improve! I don't have a skill, like woodworking, where I can just produce something and hopefully sell it. But I'm trying! I'm actively looking for a job! I can tutor and I've signed up again with the tutoring company that gave me students before. I can't control how quickly I'll get students, though. But I'm trying!!

Not to mention I clean up from his cooking and I manage most, if not all, of Sweetie's day to day needs. I'm a darn good mom, if nothing else. 

To all this... Hubby apologized. And he said, with all the honesty in the world, that he doesn't feel poor at all. With all the struggles we have - Sweetie hasn't a care in the world, and he doesn't feel poor. 

Neither do I.

Dreams of the future may turn into dreams in the night. And where you find yourself today may fall short of where you thought you'd be. But whether we dine on sushi, or create a recipe out of nothing... whether we travel to luxurious places or simply wander in the nearby woods... it's all so much better when we're together. 

Love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart, like
Why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it's so hard?
It's not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving
I'll tell you one thing, it's so much better when we're together.